John Eaton was born and raised in England, but has been living in California since the late 1980’s and is now retired. His photographic skills are self-taught through decades of patience and practice following a first experience with photography back in 1958 when on a school trip to Brussels and Paris using his father’s Kodak camera. Black and white photography has always been John’s first love — the simplicity, elegance, drama, timeliness and richness that it can bring to an image — the contrasts between light and dark, areas of luminance and tonality, and the abstractions of lines, shapes and forms: that “special” quality that heightens the emotion and impact of the image.
John has received several national and international awards for his work, including 1st prizes in architecture from the Pollux Awards, International Photography Awards (IPA), and American Aperture Awards, and Finalist in the Grand Prix de la Découverte, Paris, for his work on English Medieval Cathedrals. His work has been selected for many juried exhibitions and he has had solo exhibitions in Palo Alto and Pacific Grove, and is included in the collection at Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.
I’m energized in exploring images of what I see around me, especially architecture and landscape (the interest in architecture comes from the rest of my family: my father, brother and son are all architects) — I find the interplay of form and function in buildings fascinating. For several years post-retirement I was engaged in a major personal project to photograph the interiors of all the English medieval cathedrals (those built between the Norman Conquest in 1066 and the Dissolution in 1539-41): the fruits of this work can be seen at: www.englishmedievalcathedrals.com.
Loosely continuing the architectural theme a subsequent project, “Traces Left Behind”, focused on the industrial heritage of Buffalo, NY., photographing the now derelict and abandoned grain elevators and silos. At the time of their construction early in the 20thC, leading European architects, such as Gropius and LeCorbusier, cited these monumental edifices as key examples of modernist functional design. Today,“ … in abandonment and death they evoke the majesties of a departed civilization”; Reyner Banham, A Concrete Atlantis, 1986.
More recently I’ve been engaged in documenting not only buildings and their architecture and environment, but also the people and communities living in them. Recent examples in this context include images from the Middle East (Oman, the UAE and Kuwait), and Turkey, especially Istanbul. Most recently, documenting the people, communities and their environment along the route of the ancient Silk Road across China, from the old imperial capital, Xi’an, to the end of the Great Wall at Jiayuguan, across the desert to the oasis at Dunhuang, then on to the foothills of the Himalayas and the famous trading post at Kahgar, finally ending up on “the roof of the world” at the summit of the Karakoram Pass, the border between China and Pakistan.